BE IN no doubt, Sir Keir Starmer is now facing the biggest crisis of his leadership so far.
For all that party chiefs and shadow cabinet ministers try to shrug it off, pressure on the Labour leader to call for a ceasefire in Gaza is real.
How he handles this open rebellion in his ranks will be a massive challenge to his credibility.
Labour Mayors Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham are both openly defying the leadership and becoming flag-bearers for the pro-Palestine Left.
So too are a chunk of his Shadow Cabinet — albeit many of them privately for now.
Having rightly stood with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in backing Israel, Starmer would be wholly wrong to give in now.
A ceasefire would only damage the sole objective of military action in Gaza — obliterating Hamas.
Labour’s grand-standing mayors can pose as supporters of innocent Palestinians safe in the knowledge they don’t have to make any tough foreign policy decisions.
Sir Keir — who hopes to win the keys to No10 — has to prove during this Middle East crisis that he will be able to make those hard choices.
He cannot afford to fail.
Soft on hate
WHO is to blame for allowing pro-Palestinian marchers to call for jihad and scream anti-Semitic obscenities?
Is it the police or the Government? The answer is probably both.
Ministers are right to say police need to be more proactive.
Only now — after a third weekend demo descended into hate — does Met chief Mark Rowley insist he will be “ruthless” in tackling the mob.
But police chiefs also warn anti-terror and public order laws aren’t robust enough.
Into the cracks caused by this mess slip extremists like Abdul Wahid who works as a local GP while acting as leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the UK.
Wahid has celebrated the October 7 Hamas attacks and his group — which demands Britain becomes a Muslim state — is banned in 13 countries.
Will the police or the NHS take any action against him?
Don’t hold your breath.
IT’S heartening to hear Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho say one of her priorities is to tackle the great petrol price rip-off.
This newspaper has spent years demanding a “Pumpwatch” regulator to speak up for drivers.
But motorists are still waiting — despite the obvious benefits to a Government desperate to cut inflation.
Ms Coutinho has now set out her stall publicly.
Let’s all hope she delivers.